10 Quotes By Paulo Coelho To Inspire Your Next Adventure

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


After reading only a few pages of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, I knew that I was hooked for life on the writing of this inspiring Brazilian novelist. 

These are only a few of my favorite quotes, from some of his most popular books, that are sure to inspire you to take a risk on that next adventure! 

If you are looking for more, Quote Catalog has put together a list of more than 500 of his quotes. Check it out here.

"And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it."
—PAULO COELHO, THE ALCHEMIST

"They live as if they were never going to die, and die as if they had never lived."
—PAULO COELHO, WHAT IS FUNNY ABOUT MAN

"People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of."
—PAULO COELHO, THE ALCHEMIST

"...braveness is not the absence of fear but rather the strength to keep on going forward despite the fear."
—PAULO COELHO, THE SPY

"Whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it's because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It's your mission on earth."
—PAULO COELHO, THE ALCHEMIST

"All you have to do is pay attention; lessons always arrive when you are ready, and if you can read the signs, you will learn everything you need to know in order to take the next step."
—PAULO COELHO, THE ZAHIR

"Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure."
—PAULO COELHO, THE ALCHEMIST

"The ship is safest when it is in port, but that is not what ships were built for."
—PAULO COELHO, THE PILGRIMAGE

"It is the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting."
—PAULO COELHO, THE ALCHEMIST




Your Guide To Staying Healthy While Traveling

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,


Staying healthy while traveling can be a challenge.

You are out of your comfort zone, away from your daily routine, and often nowhere near soap and water right when you need it. 

Plus, you are in contact with A LOT of new people. 

I don’t know about you, but I always seem to end up sitting next to someone who is sniffing, sneezing, or has a hacking cough on a plane. And then there is the recycled air, and the doors, handles, and other surfaces that are used by hundreds of people daily.

Sometimes it seems like catching a bug while traveling is inevitable, and nobody likes to sightsee with a cold! 

Before you start unpacking your bags and cancel your flights, remember that thousands of people travel every day and stay completely healthy. It is possible — I promise! (In fact, here is scientific proof that travel can actually be incredibly good for your health!)

Here are some of my tried and tested tips to make sure you stay healthy on your next trip. 

Take your vitamins

If you don't take vitamins regularly, start taking a multivitamin to boost your immune system a few days before your trip, while on your flight, and once you arrive at your destination.

Make sure you bring some extra with you to take during your trip if you start to feel a little off. 

My favorite immunity boosters are Emergen-C and Airborne (pictured above). They are easy to pack and give you vitamins and minerals all in one. 

Drink lots of water

The best way to flush out toxins? Drinking a ton of water.

It's easy to forget to drink water when you are exploring all day or relaxing in the sunshine, but the quickest way to feel healthy is to stay hydrated. 

I recommend making sure that you always have a water bottle with you by bringing an empty one to fill up once you are through security. 

Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake

I know, I know — there is no way that you are going to give up your morning espresso or your beach vacation pina colada. 

Don't worry, I'm not asking you to. 

Just keep in mind that caffeinated and alcoholic beverages are dehydrating, and can also lead to headaches, stomach cramps, bloating, swollen ankles, and even contribute to lowering your immune system.

You definitely don't have to avoid them altogether, but I would suggest cutting back on long travel days — especially if you are going to be sitting for awhile — and if you do overindulge make sure to drink a few extra glasses of water to counter any side effects.

Carry hand sanitizer with you

It never fails, you are sitting in a window seat when your airplane snacks arrive and there is no way you are going to crawl over the people beside you and get to the bathroom to wash your hands. Hand sanitizer to the rescue!

This will also come in handy when you are grabbing a snack from a street vendor or using a public washroom that may not have all the comforts of home stocked up. 

Avoid salty food

Salt is dehydrating, which can lead to the dreaded bloating, muscle cramps, and unsightly swollen ankles.

And, of course, most of the snacks that you are served on a plane are packed with salt. To avoid giving into temptation on your long-haul flight, pack some of your own snacks (thing natural nuts, seeds, granola bars, dried fruit, etc.) to munch on. 

It's also smart to have a few healthy nibbles in your bag when you are exploring a new city so that you don't give in to temptation when hunger strikes. 

Bring your own blanket

Get ready for a gross travel fact...

The blankets you are given on long-haul flights are not usually washed between uses.

If you get chilly on planes or are planning on sleeping during your flight, pack your own small blanket in your carry-on bag. If you are traveling light, a large scarf (see above) or sarong will also do the trick.

Make sure to move

Travel means sitting for long periods of time, walking for hours on unfamiliar surfaces, and basically doing physical activities that are outside the norm.

Sitting for a long time on travel days can make you feel sore, achy, and lethargic. The best way to counter that and prevent toxins from building up in your body is to move!  

Make sure to go for a walk — even just a short one — when you arrive at your destination to get everything moving again, try doing some basic stretches before, and (if you are anything like me) and find yourself with swollen ankles, throw your legs up on the wall to let excess fluid drain out. 

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your guide to staying healthy while traveling
 



GUEST POST: The 10 Best Cities To Visit In China

by Lindsay Shapka in , , , ,


The 10 Best Cities to Visit in China

China is a huge and diverse country, which can be overwhelming to travel through — especially if you have a limited timeframe or budget. There are cities full of skyscrapers and those will transport you back in time, but they all hold a uniqueness that will make you want to linger a little longer. 

To help you plan your trip, I've narrowed down the huge list of cities in China to the ones that you absolutely must see as a first time (or repeat) visitor.

Beijing

The Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Great Wall of China — you could spend your entire time in Beijing exploring all the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, but some of the most interesting parts of this city can be found within its traditional narrow alleys.  

A few of these alleyways are even protected to preserve them from future development, and you are definitely going to want to wander through them to capture a glimpse of what everyday life is like in this city. I recommend the alleyways near Nanluoguziang and Ping’anli to see and experience. 

When it comes to art and culture, the 798 Art Zone, which used to be filled with Mao-era factories, is complete with contemporary art galleries, bookshops, and cafes. It is the perfect destination for a relaxing and people watching at any time of day.  

Xi’an

Beijing may have a lot of cultural attractions, but Xi’an has its fair share as well.

The awe-inspiring Terracotta Army Museum was discovered in 1974 by local farmers, and this archaeological site contains a staggering collection of life-size terracotta sculptures that depict the army of Qin Shi Huang. 

The Hanyangling Mausoleum also displays terracotta figures from two thousand years ago and it is not as crowded as the other museum. 

While in Xi’an, you will also want to visit the Muslim Quarter and take a bike ride along the top of the impressive city wall. 

Shanghai

Shanghai is fast-paced and glamorous but also has an undercurrent of history. 

Walking down the Bund, which is the historic and glitzy walkway on the waterside, is necessary as is visiting the fabulous Yuyuan Gardens. 

There are also a number of hip neighborhoods throughout the city, including Tianzifang, The Cool Docks, and M50, and you will want to wander through a couple of them to check-out what all the hype is about.

Chengdu

The food in Chengdu is amazing and you will love eating your way through this city. 

Start with rice cakes and sesame sauce before diving into the spicy chicken on a stick, but do not forget to try the Sichuan hot pot. This infamous dish is a spicy broth that you can dip a number of different types of food into. You will be able to try any of these delicious dishes at any restaurant, market, or tea house in the city. 

Once you've experienced all the food in Chengdu, you will find that the city is relaxed and low-key. 

One of the more popular places to visit is the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, and once you've been there it is all about the local parks. The best park is People’s Park, where you can relax by the lake, practice calligraphy on the pavement, or join in on one of the many dance classes that are always on offer. 

Guilin

Nature abounds in Guilin with rolling green hills, beautiful water, deep dark caves, and jagged rocks. 

Most people that visit cannot believe that this area is a city at all due to all the beauty that lies before them. Embrace the tranquility and enjoy the solitude that Guilin has to offer canoeing, kayaking, hiking, cycling, and spending time in nature. 

Guangzhou

This city has long been part of the famous Maritime Silk Road and one of the best times to visit is during the Canton Fair. 

People do arrive in this city for more than business though, and you will love sites like the Ancestral Temple of the Chen Family and the Bright Filial Piety Temple. At nighttime, the city is best experienced by a cruise along the Pearl River. 

Hong Kong

Hong Kong really heats up after the sun goes down, and the best place to see it all is from Victoria Peak where you can capture magnificent panoramic views of the city well above the sprawling high-rises, while also catching a glimpse of the laser light displays and fireworks. 

Kowloon and Lan Kwai Fong are the best places to head for a late-night meal and a night out on the town. 

Sanya

Sanya is not a traditional city in any way, and there are no fast-moving crowds to be found anywhere. Instead, you will find white sand that meets warm waters on the shoreline as well as people who want to spend their time either relaxing or out in the water. 

Jet skiing, surfing, snorkeling, diving, and swimming are the most popular water sports in Sanya, and you will find that there is always something fun and exciting to do. 

Shaxi

Located along the old Tea Horse Trail, what makes this city amazing is that it has been completely restored instead of rebuilt. 

The original walled town and the Old Town Market Square are definite must-see destinations while you are in Shaxi, and then you can head out towards the mountains for some fantastic hiking.     

Tibet

"Technically" a part of China, Tibet is like a totally different world.  

The attractions are breathtaking — three of the best places to visit in Tibet include the Potala Palace, the Jokhang Temple, and Barkhor Street. 

*     *     *

If you choose to visit one of these ten cities in China and there are numerous local tours that you can take to explore them in-depth. Just like a Halong Bay tour in Vietnam, any of the tours that you find in China will include great information about the places that you are seeing, as well as give you the opportunity to meet many of the locals that live there. 

Meeting locals is the best way to experience and learn about not only a city but the culture and traditions as well. So, talk to as many locals as you can and listen to what they have to say. You will find that your time in China will be that much better because of it! 

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The 10 Best Cities to Visit in China
The 10 Best Cities to Visit in China

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Meet The Author

Jessica Watson has been writing for websites and blogs for four years now. Currently, she is the editorial manager at Bhaya Cruises who are offering best cruising services in Vietnam



15 Photos That Will Make You Want To Visit Lisbon

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,


Portugal's capital city, Lisbon is enchanting with its maze of steep cobblestone streets, stunning tiled buildings, sun-drenched squares, outdoor cafes, and beautiful historic sites. 

If you still need to be convinced that you should add this destination to your travel bucket list,  what makes this city even more appealing is that fact that it is one of the most affordable places to visit in Europe (you can get a coffee and a croissant for 1 Euro!). Plus, the location of the city gives you access both to mountains and water, its restaurants are packed with delicious local delicacies and amazing Portuguese wine, and the people are unbelievably welcoming.

What more could you want?! 

One of the easiest (and most fun) ways to get around the city is on one of the many streetcars that pass through the narrow historic streets that most cars can't (or aren't allowed) to travel down!

The Arco da Rua Augusta sits at one end of the huge main square (Praca do Comercio) facing the water. The square is bordered on two sides by lemon-yellow buildings and covered in cobblestones.

It was the place where anyone arriving to Lisbon by sea used to disembark, and it is always bustling, full of restaurants and cafes, and one of the best spots to watch the sunset. 

A view of the Praca do Comercio from the other side of the Arco da Rua Augusta. You can see straight through to the water beyond. The arch marks the beginning, or end, of the main pedestrian street that is lined with shops and high-end cafes that trickle out into the street. Once the sun begins to set, it is the place to see and be seen whether you are a visitor or a local out for an evening stroll. 

A view into the interior courtyard of the breathtakingly detailed Mosteiro dos Jeronimos. This monastery is a UNESCO world heritage site and was home to monks of the Order of St Jerome for four centuries before the order was dissolved in 1833. 

One of the most photographed historic sites in Portugal, the Torre de Belem (Belem Tower) is also a UNESCO world heritage site and is said to epitomize the Age of Discoveries

If they aren't covered in tiles, the buildings in Lisbon are painted in pastel hues that make the streets feel like they are always basked in a morning glow. 

Laundry hanging in the sunshine off of wrought iron balconies is a common sight throughout the city, as are doors that have a character all their own. 

The 360-degree views from the Castelo de Sao Jorge are impossible to capture in a single photograph. Built in the mid-11th-century, the castle allows you to take in the terracotta rooftops of the entire city — handy if you haven't gotten your bearings yet! 

A quirky attraction, this wrought-iron elevator (Elevador de Santa Justa) was built in 1902 by Gustave Eiffel's apprentice (the creator of the Eiffel Tower in Paris). It is Lisbon's only vertical street lift and you can ride it to the top for fantastic city views!

Freshly baked Portuguese tarts sit in bakery windows — but not for long! 

Restaurants and cafes spill out into the streets giving diners the chance to people watch while they eat and enjoy a little fresh air. 

Lisbon isn't all historic buildings and cobblestones! The Parque das Nacoes, located in the north-eastern part of the city, was built for Expo '98 and is full of modern architecture like the Gare do Oriente train station pictured above. 

The breathtaking Basilica da Estrela is huge and is decorated with complex patterns in pink and black marble. 

There are massive churches all over the city, some in the more ornate gothic-style, and others that are a little more austere like this one. 

Almost every single building facade in Lisbon is covered in tiles, a result of the art of tile-making being brought to the city by the Moors hundreds of years ago. It is a feast for the eyes to wander through the town center and take in all the different patterns and designs! 

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6 Essential Winter Air Travel Tips

by Lindsay Shapka in , , , ,


Essential Winter Air Travel Tips

Are you avoiding below-zero temperatures and traveling to a warm-weather destination? Or, are you heading right into the storm and traveling somewhere cold to enjoy winter sports? 

Wheather you are leaving from a snowy destination or headed to one, these are the essential winter air travel tips that you need to know to make sure your vacation gets off to a good start! 

Get to The Airport Earlier Than Usual

Icy road conditions as a result of weather mean potential delays as you travel to the airport, and you don't want to arrive too late to check-in or be stuck in a line at security. 

Because cooler temperatures mean that everyone will be wearing more layers, this also means longer lines at security, as it will take each person a few minutes more than normal to get themselves — and all of their belongings — through the checkpoint. 

Check-In Online

Almost all airlines now allow online check-in — either through a website or an app — at least 24 hours before your flight time. You will be able to select your seat, pay any baggage fees, and provide contact information where you can be reached if there are any disruptions to your flight. 

If you still have to check a bag when you get to the airport, you should be able to skip the line and just drop it in a designated area. If not, checking in online allows you to skip the check-in lines altogether and head right for security when you arrive! 

Be Accessible

Make sure the contact info you have provided can be checked regularly or easily accessed. That way you will receive any flight status updates as soon as they happen and not only when you are in front of the screens at the airport. 

Keep in mind that you might not be using your cellular data while traveling in a foreign country, so email might be a better way to reach you than a telephone number.

Check Your Flight Status Before Leaving For The Airport

Icy runways, blizzards, fog, freezing rain — there are so many winter-related events that can cause flight delays or cancellations. Avoid waiting at the airport, or arriving for no reason, and check the status of your flight about an hour before you plan on leaving for the airport. 

Essential Winter Air Tips

Pack To Prevent Security Delays

Here are some tips to keep in mind when packing:

  • Valuables, Electronics, Documentation, and Medications should be in your carry-on bag, NOT your checked bag. Make sure that all medications are clearly marked with their original labels.
  • Keep any gifts that you are traveling with unwrapped. 
  • Most airlines one or two carry-on bags. Though the sizes vary slightly, they are consistently only permitted to be 10kg in weight. Make sure you are aware of your carry-on allowance to avoid any unexpected fees. 
  • Remember that any liquid or gels are only allowed to be in containers that are 100ml/100g/3.4oz, and must be kept in a clear plastic bag. There are bags at the airport you can use, or a Ziploc bag works as well. 
  • Galaxy Note 7 phones are not permitted on board any airlines at this time. 
  • While it is important to have a name tag attached to the outside of your bag in case it gets lost, make sure you have your information on the INSIDE as well. You never know when an exterior baggage tag might be ripped off in transit! 

Make Sure Your Passport is Up-To-Date

If you are traveling outside of your country, you will need a valid passport.

While all passports have an expiry date, you should think of your "real" renewal date to be 6 months earlier than the printed one.

While you may be able to get on the plane still, many countries won't allow entry to foreigners whose passport expires in less than six months. You don't want to fly all the way to your destination and have to turn around and fly right back! 

NOTE: If you are traveling with children, you will have to have additional documentation like birth certificates, legal documents, or letters of consent. 

Visit IATA Travel Centre for details regarding country-specific passport, visa, and health entry requirements for destinations around the world.




Your Guide To Trekking The Sulphur Skyline Trail In Jasper, Alberta

by Lindsay Shapka in , , , ,


There are a lot of stunning hiking trails in Jasper National Park, but when it comes to day hikes, the Sulphur Skyline Trail offers the biggest bang for your time and effort.

Yes, waterfalls are beautiful, glaciers are awe-inspiring, and fragrant flower-filled mountain meadows are delightful, but nothing beats a 360-degree view that seems to stretch out forever and makes you feel like you are on top of the world. And, while there are many hikes all over the Rockies that can get you this view, ones that you can do in a day are rare. 

Enjoying the breathtaking view at the Summit

But don't get me wrong, while this is a day hike, it is anything but easy — it's straight up, with a bit of a scramble to get to the summit, and there is nowhere to replenish your water along the way. If you are looking for a nice walk in the woods, this isn't the right trek for you to tackle. 

Before I dive into details about the trek and a gear guide, here are some quick facts

Miette Hot Springs is located at the Sulphur Skyline Trailhead, and is a great place to soak sore muscles after your trek!

  • Starting Point: Trailhead is accessed from the Miette Hotsprings parking lot
  • Hiking Time: Half-day | If you are a more experienced hiker, you can probably do the whole thing in 3-4 hours, an average-to-new hiker should allow 4-6 hours
  • Distance: 10 km round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 2,300 ft or 700 m (this is a pretty quick gain)
  • Elevation at the Top: 6,790 ft or 2,020 m
  • What's It Like In 3 Words: Switchbacks, Steep, Stunning

Getting There

Once you have entered Jasper National park through the East Gate, continue 7 km (4 miles) west along the Yellowhead Highway/Highway 16 until the Miette Hot Springs Road. Turn left onto the road and drive 17 km (11 miles) until the road ends at the Miette Hot Springs Parking Lot. The lot fills up fairly quickly, especially on weekends, so try and arrive early if you want to avoid parking on the road. 

Once you have parked, walk towards the Hot Springs entrance. The trail head is to the right of the entrance and is clearly marked by a large sign (there are other trails that leave from other parts of the parking lot, so make sure you are where you want to be.) 

Where do I pee?

An important question. Driving up a windy road is no fun when you gotta go, and you definitely don't want to start a trek if you need to use the facilities. 

Lucky for you, there are public washrooms located on the outside of the Hot Springs building, they are clearly marked so should be easy enough for you to spot. 

There are NO washrooms along the trail at all, so bring some toilet paper (and some bags to pack it out with) just in case nature calls while you are in the middle of nature. 

Trek Details

The hike begins on a fairly wide, paved pathway — do not be deceived. It switches quickly to an unpaved trail and then you are on a single-track that is muddy (if there is any moisture), rocky, and crisscrossed with tree roots. 

This is the typical terrain you will find for the majority of the trek

It's a steady (read, you will be sweating and breathing hard) climb for about 2.2 km — don't be ashamed to take frequent water and recovery breaks — until you come to the Shuey Pass Junction. Then it becomes a grueling, steep, switchback ascent (did I mention that it's worth it!?)

Stay right when you get to the junction — there are a few other hikes that veer off in other directions. 

The trail is then pretty much just narrow switchbacks, scattered with rocks and roots, running through forest with views of the surrounding valley. 

You emerge from the treeline around the 4 km mark into a grassy clearing with a massive white rock in the middle of it. This meadow is fairly protected from the wind and has pretty incredible views. Many people will stop here to enjoy the views, the sunshine, and have a snack. 

The summit is up a steep, bald rocky face (see image below) that is more like a scramble than anything else. It can also get really windy, so make sure to take your time and watch where you are putting your feet. 

The scramble to the summit is steep and exposed to the elements

The view from the ridge is a breathtaking, 360-degree panorama of several remote valleys and the Fiddle River, Utopia Mountian, and Ashlar Ridge. There are lots of places to perch and enjoy lunch or just soak in the view, but make sure you bring warm layers because it can get pretty chilly up there. 

The trek down goes a lot quicker than up, as it is pretty much downhill the entire way. Though, if you have injuries that make going downhill painful, make sure to allow yourself time to get down safely. 

Top Tips

  1. Get there early
    Because of the amazing views, its status as a day hike, and its proximity to the hot springs, this is a popular spot. If you want to get a parking spot and have parts of the path to yourself, try and get there as early as you can. 
  2. Pack lots of water and some food
    There is nowhere to get water along the hike, and you are pretty exposed on hot days. I carried 2 liters with me for the round trip, but it never hurts to have too much. Make sure to have snacks/lunch with you as well. Something high in protein that will give you a quick boost of energy is smart — think nut-heavy trail mix, beef jerky, or peanut butter and banana sandwiches. 
  3. Remember that you are gaining elevation quickly
    Like, really quickly. You know how when you're on a plane and your water bottles get sucked in because of the pressurization? That's what mine looked like when I got to the top of the hike. That's pretty extreme — give yourself a break if you feel like you are breathing too hard. You aren't out of shape, you're just climbing at a really quick rate! 
  4. Don't veer off the beaten path
    There are lots of tempting side paths and shortcuts along this trek, but it's really easy to get lost if you take a wrong turn. Try to fight the urge to go a different way. No shortcut is going to make it any less steep. 
  5. Pause and listen every once and awhile 
    It's easy to get caught up in the sound of your footsteps and heavy breathing, but if you take a second to just listen, you can hear the wind moving through the valley and it is a pretty amazing sound. 
  6. Pack warm layers for the top
    The summit is windy, exposed, and can get cold if (like me) you are drenched in sweat by the time you get up there. If you want to spend some time enjoying the view, make sure you have a sweater, windbreaker, and even a hat or something to cover your legs. 

Gear Guide 

Shoes
This hike doesn't require hiking boots (I just wore my super supportive and comfortable running shoes), but there are a lot of rocks to contend with, so your feet are going to end up pretty achy if the soles of your shoes are too soft or not thick enough. Whatever you do, don't try new footwear out on this hike, the elevation makes for some nasty blisters.

Asics Women's GEL Noosa Tri 10 Running Shoes $66.95 - $199.95
Merrell Men's Moab Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot $69.57 - $159.99


Pack
All you need is a small daypack to hold your layers, snacks, and water. Whatever you do, don't overpack. This hike is grueling and if you have too much extra weight you will not be a happy hiker.

The North Face Jester Backpack, TNF Black, One Size $64.95
The North Face Women's Jester Backpack - TNF Black - One Size $61.59

 


Water Bottles
Nalgene bottles are always my go-to. They last forever, are easy to clean and are lightweight so as you empty them during the climb, it lightens your pack too! 

Nalgene BPA Free Tritan Wide Mouth Water Bottle, 32 Oz, Gray with Black Lid $10.20
Nalgene Tritan Wide Mouth BPA-Free Water Bottle, Trout Green, 1 Quart $10.99

 

Sunscreen
Even if it's not that hot, the sun can still burn! Make sure any exposed skin is covered. 

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist Sunscreen, Broad Spectrum Spf 30, 5 Oz. $7.47
Coppertone Sport Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50, 7 Fl Oz $7.57

 




GUEST POST: Planning a Big Trip? Your Guide To Long-Term Travel

by Lindsay Shapka in , , , ,


This guest post is written by inspiring travel blogger Emma Fell of GoBigEmma. Read more about Emma at the end of the post. All photos in this post were taken or supplied by Emma.

The travelers of this world understand why traveling is addictive. There is this thrill of being in a new place, the sensation of experiencing something that you can only experience in this one exact spot. Sometimes it is the vibe of a Central American beach town or an Asian metropolis that captures your heart, sometimes it is a remote stretch of wilderness that takes your breath away. The exhilaration of travel is enough to make you wonder: What if I could just keep traveling forever?

While “forever” might not be a realistic goal for most, long-term travel is a reality for many passionate travelers. During my own travels, I have met many people who have been traveling for a year or more. It wasn’t until I moved into my 1975 VW bus that I got the chance to see for myself what it was like to travel for “forever”. 

My boyfriend and I intend to drive our bus along the Panamerican Highway from Alaska to Argentina, a popular overlanding route. We’ve been camping and living out of our car for over a year. We’ve done a lot of car repairs, visited many unforgettable places and met even more unforgettable people. Travel has become synonymous with living. On the day that marked our first year on the road, we found ourselves in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. 
 

The dream: Travel as a lifestyle

How did I like traveling for a year? I asked myself. I watched the sweat dripping down my arm in the tropical heat as I pondered the question. The answer I would have given a year ago didn’t apply anymore: Travel is travel, what isn’t there to like? Before this trip, my longest traveling stints had been a meager eight weeks or so. Traveling for a year had been the dream, but what did the reality look like, now that I was there?

Quite different, of course. There are a number of things that we have struggled with along the way that make that answer more complicated.

Long-term travel involves much more planning and investment than shorter trips. Before, traveling had always been a break from normal life for me. You lock the door, go somewhere fascinating, explore parts of the world you have never explored before. But eventually, you come back, unlock the door, and let your usual life continue. Long-term travel, on the other hand, takes your everyday life with you. There is a simplicity to giving up most of your possessions and not leaving rent or a sublet waiting for you when you return. However, that also means you need to store or take everything else you might want or need with you, which comes with certain complications.
 

Getting from A to B (with all your stuff)

One of the biggest questions is how will you travel? What will be your main mode of transportation? Will you backpack, or overland (travel - and often live in - a vehicle)? Will you travel by bus or by plane? Will you stay in hotels or hostels? Or even a tent? We decided to overland it and live in our vehicle. Old VWs are especially reputable for this. Overlanding did mean, however, that we had spent most of the last year camping. This was fine for us, but it’s not everybody’s thing. Two of the hardest questions traveling in a vehicle - which will apply to all long-term travelers, no matter the mode - was What will we take with us? and Where will we put it all?

If you are a backpacker, this question might sound ridiculous to you - you are more than used to reducing your material possessions to those that you can literally carry on your back. A vehicle is, in the end, no different. You just have more space to work with, but also likely an actual living space — such as a bed — to transport as well. All space is valuable. 

Up in Alaska, we were happy to have brought our winter hats and scarves with us. Now, in southern Mexico, we wonder why they are taking up valuable space. I keep them there, however, because I know I will be wandering through new climates again before I know it. Long-term travel means taking everything you might need with you or spending money multiple times on acquiring it. Packing and climate go hand in hand. Can you fit your winter coat in with your flip flops? Or will you buy your flip flops when you get there?
 

Travel can be cheap, but it isn’t free

Speaking of buying things: Traveling for over a year will cost you money. Making use of great resources like Couchsurfing is helpful, but you will still be paying for transportation costs, food, any activities you want to do, and many other things. For us, we can surely add camping, car repairs, and phone cards (aka mobile Internet access) to that list. Travel can be cheap, but it isn’t free. 

There are two common options to solve this problem: Make enough money before you leave, or be prepared to disrupt your travels to earn some on the way. We did both. Freelance writing, however, can be a competitive field, and working means we need a lot of Internet access and spend a lot of time on the computer. While a cozy beach camp is a much better work space than an office cubicle, it is worth considering to save up money and have your finances taken care of before you leave. Either way, you will need to find a way to make long-term travel sustainable, or it will be over before you even start.

Pick your travel buddies with care

I am fortunate not to be traveling alone. I have never preferred traveling solo and definitely wouldn’t want to do a trip of this scale by myself. Travel partners offer a lot: Company, shared experiences, a second set of problem-solving hands, just to name a few. On the other hand, be prepared to share a very small space - especially if you are traveling in a vehicle. However, travelers of all kinds can appreciate the fact that no matter how you travel, you will be spending a lot of time with your travel buddy.

There will always come situations where you will, at the least, want to scream at each other. At the most, you may want to drive away and leave your partner standing in the dust (the first strategy is recommended!). You will get to know each other intimately, including many habits you may prefer to know nothing about.

If you decide to take someone with you, make sure it is the right someone. Just because you don’t know each other long doesn’t mean you won’t get along in a small space and tight situations. Tessa and Dillon of The Bus and Us (who also traveled the Panamerican highway in a VW bus in 2015) only knew each other for six months before setting off on their travels and continue to travel together today. However, if you are not very familiar with each other, you should ask yourself some questions: Will it matter a lot to you if you realize you have to go your separate ways? And will you be okay doing this in a place that is likely both far away from home and foreign? 

Where are you going?

Speaking of foreign. Although some enjoy complete spontaneity when it comes to travel, most people have at least a general idea of where they want to go. Our goal is to drive from Alaska to Argentina (and the answer to your question is No, we don’t know what we will do after we get there). This means we have a definite start and end destination, and are planning on going through a total of 22 countries on our way. A year into our trip, we have three countries down and 19 left to visit. 

Many people choose international travel simply for practicality’s sake: Unless you only want to explore a huge country like Canada, the USA, Australia, or Russia, you probably don’t want to spend a whole year traveling in a single country. In addition to this, wherever you travel internationally, you will have visa issues to think about. These two reasons are why many people choose a region of the world for long-term travel. Others meander through multiple regions or decide to do an around-the-world type of thing. 

The point is that if you decide to travel long-term, you will probably be traveling internationally. Have you traveled internationally before? If not, this is something to think twice about before deciding to do it for over a year. Don’t get me wrong - international travel is a mind-blowing experience like no other, but it can also often be complicated, annoying, or straight up frustrating. 

Be prepared to be confronted with stereotypes, and practice overcoming them. Expect to learn at least some of a foreign language (no, you cannot only get by with English all over the world, so forget about that now), handle many miscommunications, get lost, and try multiple times before things happen how you think they should. Be prepared to adapt your concept of how you believe things should happen, too. International travel is always full of surprises. It is part of the beauty of it.

But it is not a passion for everybody. You might very well find yourself happy with these experiences in smaller doses, but not with a constant stream of internationality. It all depends on you and your expectations.
 

The guide to long-term travel: Try it for yourself

Is long-term travel for you? There is no guide to long-term travel. You cannot hire a guide to show you the way. The only way to find out is to try it for yourself. It is an experience that can never be accurately reproduced or described by anyone. Your version of long-term travel will not be the same as mine or anybody else’s that you read on the Internet. 

But it will be your version. There is no right or wrong way to do it. You may find that none of my advice applies at all because you are the expert of your experience. 

There is no guide to long-term travel because you don’t need a guide, you just need to be yourself.

The rest will work itself out.

Trust me. 

This is part of a guest post exchange with GoBigEmma. Check out The Anthrotorian's post, "How To Not Kill Your Travel Buddy" on Emma and Sven's blog here!

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Meet The Author

Emma is a writer, adventurer, and language enthusiast. Together with her boyfriend Sven, she is currently traveling the Americas in a VW bus called Big Emma. They document their trip on their blog GoBigEmma and on Instagram.